Helicopter rescues Army paratroopers trapped in trees during windy Gettysburg training exercise

Windy weather diverted the paratroopers from their intended landing zone on Tuesday, and two of them had to be rescued by a local helicopter company.

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — With sprawling fields and plenty of open air space to roam around, Gettysburg might just be the perfect place to perform a parachutist training exercise — that is, until the wind blows six of the paratroopers into the nearby trees.

The US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division faced unexpected obstacles from Mother Nature on Tuesday afternoon.

The division, made up of paratroopers, took to the skies of central Pennsylvania to practice the parachuting skills in which it specializes (according to the US Army, the mission of the 82nd Airborne Division is to respond to military operations anywhere in the world by parachute”within 18 hours of notification“).

However, the windy weather had other plans for the soldiers, who were thrown off course and redirected away from their intended landing area.

Deputy Chief Scott McGonigal of the Gettysburg Fire Department told FOX43 that six of the paratroopers taking part in the training exercise got stuck in the trees after the unexpected course change, their parachutes tangled in the branches.

According to McGonigal, four of them were able to descend on their own, but two had to be rescued, with a local helicopter company helping in the process.

As seen in bystander videos and photos provided to FOX43, a helicopter hovered over a trapped paratrooper and pulled them out of a tree via a rope attached to the soldiers’ backpack straps.

McGonigal said no one was injured during the event. However, the Gettysburg Fire Department was on standby and responded with other local fire companies to the scene just after 2 p.m. to assist with rescue efforts if needed.

See below for photos from Crissy Brown’s event.

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Richard V. Johnson